August 9, 2019 Vicky's View from the District
Hartzler Missouri Task Force 1 Bill Heads to White House
At the end of July, the Senate passed my legislation supporting Missouri Task Force 1, H.R. 639 the National Urban Search and Rescue Parity Act. This bill passed the House in April and establishes clear policy allowing federal employees to serve on FEMA Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Task Forces. Specifically, my bill clarifies a 2016 law which has prevented long-time Missouri task force members from serving on these vital search and rescue teams.
The 2016 law provided non-federal employees various federal liability protections due to their participation on Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) teams, and FEMA interpreted this provision to mean that federal employees are prohibited from serving on these teams.
This misinterpretation prevented dedicated Missouri Task Force 1 members from deploying to disaster areas where they actively save lives. This goes against congressional intent, so my bill establishes a clear policy that FEMA may not preclude federal employees from serving on US&R teams.
The bill is now on its way to the President’s desk where it awaits signature. I am glad that, soon, more Missouri Task Force 1 members can be deployed to disaster areas both in Missouri and nation-wide.
A New I-70 Bridge
Missouri’s Fourth District and the entire state received welcome news in July: the federal Department of Transportation awarded Missouri with an $81.2 million Infrastructure For Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant to replace the aging I-70 bridge in Rocheport. This is an extremely positive development, as merely repairing the bridge (instead of replacing it) would have caused extensive traffic delays which would have not only caused headaches for traveling families but also impacted the local economy. The INFRA grant also triggers a state bonding proposal that will allow MoDOT to make repairs to another 214 bridges in our state.
The I-70 bridge links two MO-4 counties - Boone and Cooper Counties. That is why I took the lead in getting our state’s Congressional delegation on board to petition Transportation Secretary Elaine Chau for the grant. I led a letter of support, spoke personally to Secretary Chau, and visited with the Undersecretary of Transportation on the phone about the urgent need for this bridge replacement. Senator Roy Blunt wrote a separate letter of support and visited with Sec. Chao, also, and Governor Parson also advocated strongly for the grant. It was truly a Missouri-team effort. And while this is a major project for our district, let us never forget the importance of Interstate 70 and the Rocheport Bridge to our entire nation’s transportation needs, with about 100 million tons of freight, worth more than $154 billion, crossing the bridge each year. Boone County and Columbia each pledged $2 million for this project while Cooper County and Boonville, with much smaller populations, each offered $200,000. I want to thank Boone and Cooper Counties, as well as Columbia and Boonville, for having contributed to this cause and showing they have “skin in the game.” I look forward to work starting on this ambitious project.
Tearing Down Drug Tunnels on the Border
At the end of July, I introduced legislation to expedite the approval process that U.S. Customs & Border Patrol agents must undergo to destroy border tunnels used for illegal crossings and for transporting narcotics into our country. The Eradicate Crossing of Illegal Tunnels (EXIT) Act will ensure our border patrol agents have the tools they need to address the illegal entry of individuals and dangerous drugs into our country - regardless of other considerations. Currently, border patrol agents must wait for environmental reviews of drug tunnels and seek bids for contractors to do the work each time there is a new tunnel before action can be taken. This delays action and hamstrings our agents. The EXIT act will allow the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive environmental reviews that hinder the process of protecting our homeland and allow contracts to be issued for multiple remediations to expedite the process.
Great Bills on the Floor
We all know what it’s like to be sitting at home, eating dinner or relaxing with the family, and being bothered by those annoying robocalls - many of which promote fraud and border on harassment. I was pleased to vote in July for the Stop Bad Robocalls Act, H.R. 3375, which will further protect Americans from illegal robocalls. Specifically, this legislation will support new technology to ensure the authentication of calls and the blocking of illegal calls without an extra line-item charge to consumers. Illegal robocalls are not only a nuisance, but they prey on the most vulnerable among us, including senior citizens. Statistics indicate Americans have experienced 29.3 billion illegal robocalls so far this year, marking a 64 percent increase since 2016. Enough! It is time to end these malicious calls.
Last month I was also proud to support three bills backing Israel, our strongest ally in the Middle East. The United States-Israel Cooperation Enhancement and Regional Security Act, H.R. 1837; the Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevent Act of 2019, H.R. 1850; and House Resolution 246 to oppose the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. H.R. 1837 authorizes an annual $3.3 billion in security assistance to Israel through fiscal year 2024, supporting a variety of programs with Israel, including cybersecurity. H.R. 1850 imposes sanctions on foreign persons, entities, and governments that support Palestinian terrorist groups such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Finally, House Resolution 246 opposes the BDS movement that seeks to delegitimize and isolate the State of Israel. The U.S. partnership with Israel is crucial to protecting our national interests and strengthening our long-term security. I stand with Israel in advancing that country’s safety and security while imposing sanctions on those supporting Palestinian terrorist groups. It is the right thing for America to do.
Getting to See Naval Operations Up Close
I recently joined other Members of Congress on a mission to learn more about aircraft carrier operations and Carrier Strike Group capabilities. On board the USS Harry S. Truman we witnessed day and night flight operations, flight control, weapons capabilities, the navigation bridge, medical and dental facilities, and living conditions. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and Ranking Member on the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, which oversees naval aviation acquisitions, I believe it is imperative that I see firsthand the workings of our military and learn everything I can. Being on the carrier was an experience I will never forget. I was so impressed with the precision and skill employed to carry out the modern naval operations. We are in good hands with these dedicated patriots working day and night on our behalf.
Service Academy Information Day Reminder
I want to remind you about our Service Academy Information Day which is coming up early in September. This event is for students considering attending a United States Service Academy, giving them a chance to meet some of the representatives of the various academies to ask questions and to discuss whether this opportunity might suit their future plans.
The information session is scheduled to take place at the Lebanon-Laclede County Library on Saturday, September 7th from 2:00-4:00 p.m.
The application process for students considering applying to one of the U.S. Service Academies for the 2020-2021 academic year is open through October 4th. Anyone wanting to attend one of these fine schools must apply through their Congressional offices as well as directly through the service academies. A link to the application can be found on my website here.
I look forward to seeing some future officers at this information session.
Photos to Share
I was pleased to host Air Force Gen. Timothy M. Ray, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, at our Long Range Strike Caucus luncheon.
It was an honor to host Farm Credit women leaders from across the country and provide an update on what I'm doing to ensure agriculture and food policy works for our industry.
Congratulations to Knob Noster Public Schools for receiving the Pete Taylor Partnership of Excellence Award from the Military Child Education Coalition! Knob Noster Public Schools have been recognized for several initiatives including the GEAR UP 2 LEAD STEM program and the amazing work of the Knob Noster High School robotics team in manufacturing a protective switch cover used in the cockpit of the B-2 bomber. Each panel costs only $1.25 and is now being used inside all twenty B-2s, saving the Air Force money. These and several other initiatives led to Knob Noster High School being recognized by US News and World Report as Missouri's #1 small and #1 rural school for 2019.
It was great to meet with University of Missouri psychology students and discuss the Minority Fellowship program.
I love having the FFA groups visit me in D.C. during the summer. This group hailed from El Dorado Springs.
I loved getting to drop off and donate books from the Library of Congress to the Morgan County Library in Versailles this week and then reading to the kids!
This week I enjoyed my visit to Tipton, dropping by Tipton Latham Bank, Gokey Co, Mid-America Testing, and the Tipton Area Veterans' Memorial.
Weekly Dose of Good News
I was happy to hear that veterans who are housed at the Tipton Correctional Center are benefitting from a new program that helps them while they serve their sentences and will give them a boost as they prepare to get back into society. The program is an extension of one that began at the Moberly Correctional Center two years ago. It includes a housing wing specifically for veterans, counseling, and getting offender-veterans connected with resources for education and employment. The facility’s veterans’ wing has room for 50 offenders. It is visited regularly by a representative from the Missouri Job Center who talks to the veterans about employment opportunities when they get out. It is also visited by American Red Cross volunteers who discuss such topics as PTSD and anger management. These veterans made mistakes, but they served their country. It is the least we can do, as a society, to help them get back on their feet again.